I won’t let them break me down to dust. I know that there’s a place for us— For we are glorious. Look out ’cause here I come!
The lyrics to “This is Me” express the determined feelings of the girls as they face the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Exam. In Kenya, this examination is the gateway to public and private university acceptance, and determines eligibility for government educational loans and scholarships. It is likely the most important academic exam they will ever take.
The first KCSE exam was held in 1989. The test takes 15 days and involves a minimum of ten subjects including Swahili, English, Business Studies, Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, History, Geography and Religious Studies; there is also a practical lab component for the science exams. The Daraja girls will begin their tests on November 5th and the much anticipated results will be released in February of 2019. The passing grade is a C+; however, specific university courses require different grades. For example, if a student is interested in pursuing a medical degree, they must pass all of their subjects with a B or higher.
Since it’s founding, Daraja girls have performed remarkably well on the KCSE. The majority of graduating students have received a score that qualifies them to attend university, and some of those received scores high enough to earn them admission to a four-year university on a full government scholarship. Last year, Daraja Academy was ranked 1st in Laikipia East District and 2nd in Laikipia County based off of KCSE results.
Currently, form 4’s are spending all of their time preparing for the exam. Girls often wake before 5am to start their studies and work until late in the evening. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the girls as they study in groups, taking turns leading the discussion in their strong courses. Despite the stress, the girls’ morale remains high, often praying, singing, and dancing to keep their spirits up.
The Daraja community has also rallied in support by holding a campus-wide prayer and encouragement event with local speakers. At the end of the event, Ms. Jennifer led our girls in an empowerment cheer:
I will face it, I will do it, I will overcome it and I will be.
During the exam period, staff will place notes of encouragement and inspiring quotes around campus, even hiding them under the students pillows. We all believe in the girls’ preparation and look forward to seeing them demonstrate what they have learned. Look out KCSE because here they come!